The Siwan district magistrate has constituted a two-member committee to probe how a photograph of incarcerated Rashtriya Janata Dal leader Md Shahabuddin, sporting a completely new look, went viral on the social media recently.
Shahabuddin is lodged at Siwan jail, where access to cellphones is considered a security breach.
The probe team, comprising Siwan sub-divisional officer Bhupendra Prasad Yadav and deputy superintendent of police (headquarters) Krishna Murari Prasad, has been asked to submit its report in two days. It will examine the authenticity of the image – which shows the jailed leader in a tonsured avatar sans glasses – and investigate how it wound up on the social media. The coat he is seen wearing in the photograph indicates that it was taken after the advent of winter.
The inquiry committee was constituted on the directive of inspector general (prisons) Anand Kishor.
“We have to check the authenticity of the photograph, and the objective behind posting it on the social media. If the photo was taken with a mobile phone, we will have to review prisoners’ access to such devices inside the prison. Cellphones have been recovered from Siwan jail on past occasions,” an officer said on the condition of anonymity.
A mobile phone was recently seized from the RJD strongman’s ward, the officer said. Shahabuddin was incarcerated at Siwan jail after the Supreme Court cancelled his bail in the twin murders of Girish Raj and Satish Raj, sons of trader Chandrakeshwar Prasad.
Prison officials said wards 16 and 18 – housing Shahabuddin and Mohammad Kaif (an accused in journalist Rajdeo Ranjan’s murder) respectively – were searched after the photograph emerged. Shahabuddin hasn’t left the prison since October, when the apex court cancelled his bail, they added.
Police are also trying to identify the person responsible for uploading Shahabuddin’s photograph online.